- Christine Stapleton Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force have charged the owners of a West Palm Beach treatment center with paying kickbacks to sober home operators for insured addicts, bringing the total number of arrests in Palm Beach County’s corruption crackdown to 30.
Jordi Martinez-Garcia, 48, of Palm Beach Gardens and his partner, Mark Johnston, 55, of West Palm Beach were arrested on 62 counts of patient brokering. In a brief court hearing at the Palm Beach County Jail Thursday morning, Judge Dina Keever-Agrama set their bond at $10,000 per count, totaling $620,000 each.
Three sober home operators, not named in the arrest reports, told investigators that Martinez-Garcia and Johnston agreed to pay $600 per week for every insured addict they enrolled in their program, London Treatment Center.
The sober home operators said Martinez-Garcia and Johnston told them that they knew the payments were illegal and asked them to sign marketing contracts or flat-fee contracts for a specific number of patients, according to arrest reports.
Their lawyer, Adam L. Rankel, said Thursday that he is representing multiple people accused of patient brokering.
“We look forward to seeing the judges downtown,” he said.
Matthew Anderson, 38, offered free rent to residents of his sober home, Anastasia’s Way, contingent on their attendance at London Treatment Center, according to a police report.
Detectives reviewed bank records and found numerous checks to Anderson and Anastasia’s Way from London Treatment Center, according to the report.
At the Thursday hearing, Annmarie Kilinski, clinical director of the London Treatment Center, said she had been working at the center for the past year and a half.
“As far as patient care, we have excellent client staff. Clients were treated very well,” she said. “They were good employers.”
Michelle Patruno, office and human resource manager at the center, said within the year and a half she worked at the center, the employers had treated the employees and clients with the “utmost intentions.”
“It’s one big family who will stand by Mark and Jordi,” she said.
The Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force, created by State Attorney Dave Aronberg in May 2016, made its first arrests in October. Already, seven people have pleaded guilty and accepted plea bargains, which include providing information and testifying against other corrupt businesses.
Aronberg said undercover operations and tips from legitimate treatment center and sober home operators have helped investigators understand the complex networks of brokers, sober homes, treatment centers and labs.
“We depend on good players in the industry to support our effort,” said Aronberg. He said Wednesday that he would be swearing in another investigator to work on the cases Thursday. “We are making progress.”